SOCIAL Weather Stations president Mahar Mangahas gives his take on the “fluid” political situation, using national opinion polls to support his viewpoint.

In the article he wrote for this month’s issue of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) Newsletter, Mangahas pinpoints the events that partly explain President Arroyo’s low popularity ratings.

Here’s what Mangahas wrote:

The Current Philippine Political Crisis:
A Polling Perspective

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA for short), now the least popular of the four Presidents in the two decades since opinion polls have been regularly published (Chart 1), has gotten negative Net Satisfaction[1] ratings from the public since August 2004.

GMA had been elected as Vice-President in 1998, and assumed power in January 2001 when President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, then undergoing an impeachment trial for corruption, was forced out of the palace by the so-called People Power II uprising, supported initially by mass cabinet resignations and then decisively by military and police announcements of “withdrawal of support” for Erap. Her unusual (but legal, ruled the Supreme Court) route to the Presidency may account for her start as being only moderately popular, without a honeymoon period unlike the three previous presidents. Sixty-one percent accepted her as Erap’s replacement in a February 2001 poll. Erap was soon arrested on the non-bailable charge of plunder – in March 2001, 53% agreed with the charge, but 57% wanted him given bail; he is detained and under trial, to this day.

GMA’s first negative rating, in early 2003, was due to her decision for Philippine forces to join the United States in the Coalition of the Willing in Iraq, which caused much insecurity among Filipinos, despite traditional goodwill towards the US. She bounced back to positive ratings during the runup to the May 2004 elections, where she won a six-year term by an official score of 40.0% to 36.5% (there were 5 candidates), the narrowest point margin since independence in 1946. As usual, there were many charges of fraud in the 2004 election; vote-counting took seven weeks to complete. The losing candidate, the immensely popular movie star Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), filed a legal protest, but died unexpectedly from a stroke in December 2004. Early in 2005 the Presidential Electoral Tribunal declared his case moot and academic, and in a second decision rejected his widow Susan Roces’s plea to at least resolve the issue of who had really won the election. Filipinos were initially (March 2005) somewhat in favor (47-39) of continuing FPJ’s protest, but later (May 2005) were divided (39-41) about it, even as 71% believed (May 2005) Susan Roces’s accusation of massive cheating in the election.

Furor erupted in early June 2005 when the Press Secretary himself held up two audiotapes in a press conference (calling one “genuine” and the other “fake”) allegedly containing wiretaps of GMA, in June 2004 while the election returns were still being completed, asking Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to make sure that she would win by at least one million votes (equivalent to about 3 percentage points).[2] On June 27, GMA admitted speaking to an (unnamed) election official “to protect her votes.” On July 8, eight cabinet members and some other high officials resigned; their call for GMA to step down was joined by other dignitaries, including former President Corazon Aquino. Former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) relieved the pressure on GMA, proposing as a compromise a shift to the parliamentary form of government, with a provision that GMA’s term of office be cut short.[3] Impeachment proceedings against GMA were filed with the strongly GMA-controlled House of Representatives, but failed to muster the required one-third vote to bring the case to trial in the Philippine Senate.[4]

Public opinion has been unfavorable to GMA throughout 2005. Net Satisfaction with her performance was -12 in March, -33 in May, -23 in August, and -30 in December. SWS telephone polls in Metro Manila found 59% (June 28-30) saying that GMA indeed told the official to cheat, and 62% (July 12-14) saying she should resign, failing which 85% wanted her impeached. The national Social Weather Survey of early September 2005 found 79% in favor of impeachment, 64% in favor of GMA’s resignation, and 51% in favor of toppling her by People Power if not impeached. In this national poll, only 24% believed that GMA really won the 2004 election, 57% believed that GMA’s phone calls told the Comelec official to cheat, and 40% said they had already personally heard the tapes or read its transcripts. In December 2005 the most popular idea for charter change was FVR’s suggestion to cut short GMA’s term in office (approved by 54%).

The beleaguered President has turned to sterner tactics to defend herself. In late September 2005, she stymied congressional investigations by an Executive Order banning cabinet and military officials from answering questions without her permission. Last February 24th, charging that a rightist-leftist conspiracy, including elements of the Philippine Armed Forces, was about to launch a coup, she proclaimed a “state of emergency” under which the police and the National Telecommunications Commission have been threatening to shut down uncooperative mass media companies, and several (leftist) legislators have been threatened with arrest. On February 26th, after the general commanding the Marines was suddenly relieved, a Marine battalion, under a colonel threatening “to withdraw support” from GMA, staged a tense stand-off for several hours at marine headquarters in Metro Manila before returning to barracks. Challenges to the constitutionality of both the executive order and the state of emergency[5] have been lodged and are awaiting decision of the Supreme Court. To call a political situation “fluid” is hackneyed yet quite apt for the Philippines today.

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[1] In Filipino as well as in English, ‘Satisfaction’ is a better grade than ‘Approval’. The rating uses a 5-point scale with neutrality in the middle. A positive or negative net value indicates the direction of the plurality, not of the majority.

[2] The Press Secretary, who was obviously trying to pre-empt an exposé by the opposition, was never able to clarify the issue of a “real” versus a “fake” tape. Garcillano vanished, and reappeared only in late November after the impeachment vote lost in the House of Representatives; he said he had been in hiding to protect his life, and stonewalled at investigations of both houses of Congress.

[3] However, there was no such provision in the December 2005 report of a group commissioned by GMA to recommend Constitutional changes.

[4] The opposition in the House managed to get the “Garci tapes” aired in public, but not to be accepted as evidence due to the law against such use of wiretaps. It was established that the wiretapping was done by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but not by whose authority or for what purpose. The tapes implicated several high officers in the Armed Forces as having aided the Comelec official in cheating.

[5] Police, justice department and military officials have continued to set an anti-free-speech tone even after state of emergency was formally lifted on March 3, with the administration now arguing that the case at the Supreme Court is moot and academic.

Chart1

4 Responses to Mangahas’s view on the political crisis

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lokalokang matino

April 4th, 2006 at 11:42 pm

Nice Birthday reminder, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR THE MADAM!!!

PM Thaksin RESIGN on the eve of someone’s birthday?
Will TAKSIL eventually follow?

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baycas

April 5th, 2006 at 12:54 am

GMA…assumed power in January 2001 when Erap…was forced out of the palace by the so-called People Power II uprising, supported initially by mass cabinet resignations and then decisively by military and police announcements of “withdrawal of support” for Erap.

this was actually a coup http://philippinecommentary.blogspot.com/2006/03/2001-leftist-rightist-coup-detat-in.html to which gloria has admitted her part in it http://www.newsflash.org/2001/02/pe/pe001600.htm .*

Her unusual (but legal, ruled the Supreme Court) route to the Presidency may account for her start as being only moderately popular, without a honeymoon period unlike the three previous presidents.

it’s as if gloria needed a honeymoon period…even in 2004, with her arrogance, she said she doesn’t want it:

“I do not want a honeymoon period after which we can forget the country and go after each other again. I want a marriage not of convenience but of conviction…I want a marriage for at least the life of the congress.” http://www.ops.gov.ph/speeches2004/speech-2004july26.htm

…at least she had the foresight then that the marriage of the one who governs and the governed would not last long…it’s true because her incessant lying would annul such marriage anyway.

(*djb and john, i haven’t found the full text of the copa speech yet.)

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polsjs

April 5th, 2006 at 10:31 am

Concluding sentence:

“To call a political situation “fluid” is hackneyed yet quite apt for the Philippines today.”

Extrapolating the conclusion:

“The political situation is like “LIGHTER FLUID”, VOLATILE, COULD IGNITE AND EXPLODE WITH JUST ONE SPARK, it is all up to the people to take the step that is very apt for the Philippines today.”

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johnmarzan

April 5th, 2006 at 3:48 pm

(*djb and john, i haven’t found the full text of the copa speech yet.)

maybe it’s in amando doronila’s book on erap’s downfall.

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